Although LavaBlast mainly produces .NET-based solutions, we’re currently working on usability enhancements to our favourite requirements engineering tool, jUCMNav. jUCMNav is Java-based open source project (an Eclipse plug-in) for graphical software requirements modelling built using the Graphical Editing Framework (GEF) and the Eclipse Modeling Framework (EMF).  Personally, I love the development cycle (with automatic incremental compilation) in Java/Eclipse. Writing plug-ins for Eclipse is tons of fun and there is an active community contributing to the Eclipse project (and its subprojects). However, I often find myself wanting to do something simple and having to fiddle around with 12 source code excerpts to make it work as a whole for various reasons.

  • You know how to do something for general Eclipse plug-ins but not where to hook it up to your GEF editor.
  • You know how to do something in SWT/Draw2D but not where to hook it up to your GEF editor.
  • You get burned by random conventions that aren’t clearly defined
  • Some file you would think would be included is ignored by your build script.
    In any case, I’ll post a few technical details on some of the issues we had to solve, hoping it will help someone out in the future!

Scenario: You are using a WizardDialog in your application, but the ? button does nothing.

Or: How do you set up contextual help on a WizardDialog in Eclipse?

Step 1) Create a help_contexts.xml file.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<?NLS TYPE=""?>
   <context  id="help_general" >
        <topic label="test" href=""/>


  • The name of the XML file is not important.
  • Important: DO NOT include your plug-in name in the context id (here: “help_general”)
  • Important: DO NOT include any periods in the context id (here: “help_general”, not “help.general”)
  • You may reference local help files – they don’t need to be external.


    Step 2) Reference the contexts file from your plugin.xml

    <extension point="">
             <contexts file="help_contexts.xml">
  • The contexts element has an optional plugin-id parameter. Leave this empty unless you want to contribute help contexts to another plug-in.

Step 3) Ensure help_contexts.xml is packaged with your application

  • Edit your file to ensure it includes help_contexts.xml (bin.includes = …, help_contexts.xml, …)
  • Note the Bundle-SymbolicName in your Manifest.MF (also visible in your plugin.xml editor). If none found, note Bundle-Name.  Example: com.domain.myplugin

Step 4) Set the context id in the WizardPage

public class MyWizardPage extends WizardPage
    public void createControl(Composite parent) {
        PlatformUI.getWorkbench.getHelpSystem.setHelp(parent, "com.domain.myplugin.help_general");
  • You must add this in each WizardPage, not the WizardDialog.
    Hope this helped!